County allocates $19K for consultant firm to draft land use plan

County Clerk Chris Baird and County Attorney Christina Sloan participate in discussions about the development moratorium currently in place.
Photo by Doug McMurdo

As expected, the Grand County Council in a special meeting held Monday, March 11 agreed to dedicate up to $19,000 in consultant fees that will go to a firm tasked with drafting a plan for future land uses.

The City of Moab is already under contract with Landmark Design, at a cost of $47,000, for similar work. Whether the county enters into an interlocal agreement with the city or opts to contract directly with Landmark Design is a question that staff will address. Landmark valued its proposed scope of work at roughly $18,400.

Time is a critical concern for both governments as each has a six-month moratorium in place banning new construction of virtually all overnight accommodations. The moratorium will expire in early August and something will need to be in effect by then.

Zacharia Levine, the county’s director of Community and Economic Development, said he has reviewed the scope of work Landmark would perform and that he is “very comfortable recommending the council move forward” with doing business with the firm.

There were a couple of hiccups to address. Grand County Clerk/Auditor Chris Baird said an easier road to take might be to contract directly with Landmark rather than enter into an interlocal agreement with the city.

Ruth Dillon, Grand County administrator, pointed out the council would have to determine Landmark is a “sole source provider” if it were to avoid the time-consuming open bidding process. Baird said the firm could be considered a sole provider given it is the only company the city is engaged with.

Baird said the “ILA route seems like an extra step or two,” that might be avoided, saying no matter what avenue is chosen the contract must come back to the council for ratification.

County Attorney Christina Sloan was hesitant to endorse either plan until she could review the city’s contracts with Landmark, and she also had concerns whether the county’s cost was fair without reviewing the city’s deal.

Baird indicated Landmark might have to do more work on the county’s behalf given the fact Grand County has more undeveloped property that would have to be part of any future land use plan.

Levine suggested the council not get bogged down on relatively small funding issues. “I hate to see negotiations over a few thousands dollars [cause a] delay … we don’t have the luxury of time.”

Council Member Mary McGann made a successful motion to approve the $19,000, which will come from the county’s discretionary fund. Vice Chair Terry Morse and Council Members Jaylyn Hawks and Greg Halliday voted in favor. Council Chair Evan Clapper and members Curtis Wells and Rory Paxman had conflicts and were unable to attend.

Landmark in its expanded scope of work said that it would bring the city and county “to the table” to provide a “unified and comprehensive” understanding of the project.

It will review existing plans, policies and ordinances at a “kickoff advisory committee meeting to align Moab and Grand County efforts.” Step two is research and analysis and mapping, followed by developing alternatives. Step four calls for drafting policies and ordinances followed by step five – public outreach. The final step is approval of the final land use element on the books for both government entities.